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Moonbeam the cat likes vinyl.

Herbie got a cat. This wasn’t an automatic, and the choice was between a three-legged cat and one with the traditional number of limbs.

It wasn’t automatic because there was competition. A woman had first dibs on the three- and four-legged cats and asked for the evening to make an informed decision. A three-legged cat is not necessarily a liability because it can become an ice breaker or a conversation starter should either become necessary.

Herbie is our oldest son and single and was looking for a cat (it seems that single people often choose cats and couples dogs, as a warmup for family life). Had he chosen the three-legged cat, which he didn’t because the competition took her home, he may not have been single for long because if a man finds it in his heart to love a three-legged cat, does that heart not have room for a two-legged creature who may feel as if she is less than perfect herself?

With cats, there is always the question of who chooses whom. If a cat shows up at your door, she may be like my Grandmother Sidenberg, who arrived with both luggage and hat box and expected you to fetch both posthaste and fetch them with a good attitude.

Good attitude or not, a cat’s owner immediately finds himself on probation. Cats are particular and have high standards. They have to decide whether this is the sort of place in which they want to stay. God forbid it gets around that they settled for something less than stellar. No cat wants that on its resume will do anything to avoid a black mark.

We had a porch cat named Blueberry who fired us for the lady down the street who was more appreciative and had better food. Not only did she throw us over but when I’d walk by her new home where she was stretched out on the newly painted front porch, Blueberry would turn her head as if to ask, “I don’t know you, do I?”

“This cat I’m going for (and got) caught and ate a fly very deftly today,” Herbie wrote. “That’s the kind of energy I’m looking for.”

“Energy” because Herbie, like most everybody else, has “flies, spiders and possibly a mouse." He would like this cat to be a working cat.

“Working cat"? That’s like running across a snow leopard at Rite Aid. “Working” and “cat” are not normally found in the wild or next to one another in a sentence.

That the cat caught and ate a fly in its audition performance is one of the oldest tricks in the book. The cat wanted to give the impression that catching flies, spiders and mice were part of its daily routine and that this was the sort of energy one could expect.

Prepare to be surprised or maybe not surprised. The day a cat comes to live with you is the day that cat retires. Whether it’s 2 or 12.

Cats can be busy but rarely on cue and certainly not because you are watching them and they want to impress you. No animal has more energy than a cat, and no animal spends more of that energy sleeping.

Sunday, Herbie brought the cat home and gave it a bath. Strike one. I’m surprised the cat didn’t call Uber and move out on the spot.

A bath? Cats don’t like baths. Three- or four-legged.

Moonbeam is cute but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a kitten who wasn’t. They are as cute as they are relaxed and this cat has not waited long to demonstrate that he has both genes.

I like dogs and they probably wouldn’t throw you over for a fuller bowl of food down the street, but there is something about a cat. We had Callie for 18 years and she was good company and it was hard to say goodbye to when it was time to say goodbye.

I’m not sure the flies, spiders and mice have much to worry about, but I hope Moonbeam proves the same.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or 661-395-7279.

(1) comment

Roy Tullis

Herb. I enjoyed your story about the porch cat. I currently have a porch cat but in my case it's a patio cat. The male tabby cat with a bushy tail walked across my back yard for about three months. If I tried to walk toward it away it would run. One morning I was sitting on the patio reading when the cat walked up to me, rubbed against my leg and purred. I reached down and scratched him behind the ears. He laid down by the chair, When I got up he followed me around like a dog. He stayed around for three days sleeping in a patio chair. On the forth day I gave up, went to the market for some cat food and put out cat food and water for him. That was about a month or so ago and he is still here. He still sleeps in the chair and follows me around every time I go out. I guess I have been adopted, I re-named him Garfield. He may decide to leave one day but it is nice to have him visit for awhile. As they say, "You never own a cat, they chose you".
Roy Tullis

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